While waiting in the foyer of Gasworks Theatre for Terence O’Connell’s Greek Goddess to begin, my theatrophile friend Tony said in his typical English humour: “In true Greek style the 7:30 show started at 8:00, or so.” Me, being a true Greek that has lived most of my life in Greece, I found this to be quite normal.
I knew this performance was going to win my heart as soon as I took my seat and set my eyes on the stage. A backdrop of a distorted shadow of a window, reminiscent of the Greek flag was projected on a wall. Sometimes one picture speaks a thousand words.
And the show begins
“Greek Goddess” takes us to Broadway in 1967 where Greek legend Melina Mercouri (award winning actress and later politician) played by Maria Mercedes performs in a one woman cabaret style show while in exile from Greece because of the military junta.
Writer and director Terence O’Connell recreates Melina’s performance and allows us in turn to experience the essence of Melina Mercouri as she communicates her political views and her fight for freedom and justice through a cabaret style performance.
Maria Mercedes performance as `Melina Mercouri is exceptional. She certainly channels the Greek Goddess. The actress shares the stage with only a solo bouzouki player ( Jacob Papadopoulos) and pianist (Andrew Patterson) whose beautiful renditions of carefully selected songs become a narrative that accompany and complete the production. The music definitely is the other star of the show. Music by internationally renowned Greek composers such as Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hatzidakis, whose music defined an era and lyrically express the poetry, the pain and the glory of Greece. Monologue is interwoven with songs and music throughout the act.
Maria Mercedes captures Melina’s pathos and fearlessness in communicating her message and personal revolution to the audience. She uses her characteristic theatrics and sex appeal to exhibit her emotions while voicing and singing throughout the show to express her personal revolution. She opens up to the audience holding nothing back, painting a picture of nostalgia, anger, love for freedom and Democracy to advocate the magic and magnificence of Greece and its culture. What it means to be Greek, then and now. Using her charisma, her passion, her sex appeal and even namedrops as only Melina could to get her message across and gather support from her audience. Her performance is a form of activism; through her art she voices her personal revolution. Famous Melina quotes show her associations with iconoclasts and the crème de la crème of the international art and cultural world of that time.
Writer and Director Terence O’Connell shines light to a not so well known part of Melina Mercouris life, which may have heralded her title of “Greek Goddess.”
Personally, I was moved by “Greek Goddess” and loved everything about this production and found it to be politically and historically relevant to Greece now. Congratulations and thank you to Terence O’Connell for writing and directing Greek Goddess, to Maria Mercedes for her interpretation of Melina, to Jacob Papadopoulos and Andrew Patterson for their skilful interpretation of the songs. This is what good quality theatre is.